Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus Walk for Unity

B2C36025-6EDD-4F4A-A15B-29BBFAD24264_cx0_cy10_cw0_w1023_r1_sIn a Washington synagogue, Susan Katz Miller sat beside an atheist, a Muslim and a Christian on Sunday.

No joke.

After listening to a Zoroastrian prayer, Miller – a Jew from an interfaith family – and two friends (an atheist and a Muslim), walked down leafy and elegant Embassy Row in Washington. They paid their respects at various churches, broke for an Indian lunch at the Sikh Gurdwara temple, and wound up at the Islamic Center of Washington, where they heard remarks by Imam Abdullah Khouj and listened to the famous Hindu “Gayatri Mantra.”

Close to a thousand people – members of different faiths, most of them residents of Maryland, Virginia or the nation’s capital – joined Miller and her friends at Unity Walk 2017, an annual celebration of diversity and culture held in Washington for the past 12 years. They carried a message of solidarity, caring and inclusiveness on this sunny Sunday afternoon.

“We want to model that people do care about each other and want to learn about each other,” said Rabbi Gerald Serotta, executive director of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.

“We believe God intends us to learn from each other,” he said.

According to Rasit Telbisoglu, program director at the Rumi Forum, a cosponsor of the DC Unity Walk, the event will help open eyes to the plight of others.

“These events are actually helping us build trust in each other,” Telbisoglu said. “You slowly build up a relationship. … When you do that, it’s hard to harbor prejudice against another community.”

Music director David North conducts interfaith singing group Mosaic Harmony at closing ceremony for Unity Walk 2017 on Sunday 09/10/17 in the U.S. capital. (B. Bradford/VOA)

Music director David North conducts interfaith singing group Mosaic Harmony at closing ceremony for Unity Walk 2017 on Sunday 09/10/17 in the U.S. capital. (B. Bradford/VOA)

 

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Want to build interfaith friendships? Here’s how music can help

1817616SALT LAKE CITY — The sounds of booming drums, clapping hands, a South Indian flute and an ancient horn filled the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Sunday evening, as performers of all ages shared the music of their faiths.

“Sacred Music Evening 2017” showcased the talents of 10 religious ensembles, including Buddhist dancers, gospel singers and Sufi whirling dervishes. The groups took turns entertaining a joyous crowd before artists and attendees alike joined their voices to sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

 “With God, our creator, family all are we. Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony,” they sang.

The annual event, which began 15 years ago as a way to celebrate the religions represented at the 2002 Winter Olympics, brings together music lovers from Utah’s faith communities, highlighting shared values through lively songs, dances and spoken words. This year’s performers included representatives from more than a dozen congregations in the Salt Lake Valley.

Music is a powerful tool in efforts to build interfaith bonds, noted Roberta King, author of “(un)Common Sounds: Songs of Peace and Reconciliation among Muslims and Christians.” People may come to a concert feeling awkward or anxious, but soon enough they’ll be swaying and singing along.

“Music engages us almost immediately at the emotional level,” she said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DESERET NEWS

 

Why it’s absurd that a Muslim leader’s presence at the Washington National Cathedral is controversial

This opinion piece is by Hussein Rashid, PhD, founder of islamicate, a consultancy focusing on religious literacy.

President Trump is expected to appear Saturday at an interfaith service at Washington National Cathedral where Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society will offer the Muslim call to prayer.imrs

Several outlets reported a controversy over Magid’s participation in this service. While there may be fellow Muslims who disagree with the decision to participate by Magid or any other faith leader, that should not serve as a distraction. The larger controversy over an imam’s inclusion of the event demonstrates a continued lack of understanding of Muslim spiritual life and acceptance of Muslims as inherently different than American.

The adhan, or call to prayer, is an important aspect of Muslim devotional life. It can be prayerful, but it is not part of a formal prayer. To suggest that Magid is praying, presumably for the success of Trump, is mistaken. When Magid calls out “I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God,” there is no benediction for anyone. There is only the praise of the divine. By framing it simply as a prayer, someone who is unfamiliar with a quarter of the world’s population may think that despite Trump’s hateful rhetoric to his fellow Americans, they are ready to submit to him unconditionally.

What makes Magid’s participation controversial for many Americans is that he is Muslim with a religious leadership role and a congregation. Yet many other faith leaders are also at this event, and no one seems to see their presence as controversial.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Indy church brings Christian, Muslim faiths together

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After a long year of angst and uncertainty in the community, one Indianapolis church wanted to build interfaith bridges.

Christ Church Cathedral, an Episcopal church on Monument Circle, invited Hoosiers from the the Indianapolis Muslim Community Association to speak before two of its Christmas Eve sermons to come together in solidarity during the church’s time of celebration.

“The times are calling upon us to build these bridges,” said Eyas Raddad, the representative from the Indianapolis Muslim Community Association who spoke to the congregation. “Fear, especially of those who are different, and the uncertainty that comes with that has been a core cause of the angst in the community.”

This is the first time Christ Church Cathedral has done this, but it’s not the first time Muslims have been in churches participating in Christmas celebrations, Raddad said. Coming together in a time of celebration will start to build these bridges.

Jesus Christ is also important in Islam, Raddad said, which is not something many know. Jesus and the Virgin Mary are mentioned many times in the Quran, similar to how they’re mentioned in the gospel.

“I want to bring a message to people to understand that commonality is much more than they ever tend to appreciate,” Raddad said. “Muslims are friends of Christians, and our common values will translate to common actions.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDY STAR 

Interfaith events expand in wake of 2016 election

interfaith_banner-1200x500It’s getting real in a whole new way for Americans involved in local, regional and national interfaith movements.

Donald Trump’s election is seeing to that.

Religious folk who thought they had an uphill battle against sporadic prejudice, here and there, are wondering if anti-Muslim bigotry may soon be codified and methodically applied across the nation.

“What the president-elect has spoken about during this election cycle should have alarmed every American, and every Baptist, who cherishes religious liberty,” said Mitch Randall, an ardent proponent of ecumenical and interfaith efforts and pastor of NorthHaven Church in Norman, Okla.

“Every person has a right to worship, or not worship, their God as their conscience dictates.”

Randall said he spoke with the imam of an area mosque about this topic during a recent gathering of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches.

“I let him know personally if he needs a Baptist minister to stand beside him, then I would be glad to do that,” Randall said.

And he isn’t alone in making such a pledge.

‘I support your right of religious freedom’

“It’s a message that’s being delivered in cities like Boston, where 2,600 people poured into a mosque Sunday night for an interfaith service, and Nashville, Tenn., where residents created a chalk mural of support outside a mosque,” the Christian Science Monitor reported this week.

The message was also communicated in Phoenix, Ariz., where the mayor and hundreds of others lined up to purchase food from a Lebanese baker whose store was vandalized.

InterfaithEvent: A number of interfaith events have been held around the nation since Donald Trump's election. Religious leaders pledge support of Muslims. (Photo/Creative Commons)

The support has also come from sources some would consider unexpected.

“I’m here today, to say as a Southern Baptist, I want you Muslims to know, I love you, I care about you, I support your right of religious freedom,” Bob Roberts said in remarks included in the article. Roberts, who is from Keller, Texas, made the comments in a mosque in Washington D.C. “I will stand with you, and there are many of us.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM BAPTIST NEWS 

Christians and Muslims to work and pray together over 9/11 weekend

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Pictured here:  America’s oldest mosque in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

CEDAR RAPIDS — The way Hassan Selim sees it, we are living in a time where people of all faiths must focus on building bridges and forging friendships.

That hasn’t been an easy task since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, says Selim, imam at the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids.

But there are significant signs of progress.

In fact, that progress is to be on full display this weekend as members from the Islamic Center work and pray side by side with members of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church.

The two congregations are joining forces Saturday for a morning of service at Waypoint’s Madge Phillips Center Shelter, 318 Fifth St. SE, where volunteers plan to paint, clean bathrooms and the kitchen and donate personal hygiene products.

At 7 p.m. Sunday, they’ll gather again, along with leaders of the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County, to host an interfaith prayer service at St. Stephen’s, 610 31st St. SE. During the service, they’ll remember the nearly 3,000 people who died on 9/11 and share prayers.

The event is open to the public.

“People can be of different backgrounds, different religions, but among the things that both Islam and Christianity have in common is that we care about those who can’t care for themselves,” said Ritva Williams, pastor at St. Stephen’s. “There’s no reason we can’t work together to make a difference.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GAZETTE 

 

London Muslims go to church in solidarity with Christians: ‘We will not let hatred win’

st-john-on-bethnal-green-welcomes-muslims-to-sunday-serviceLeading members of Britain’s Muslim community have attended a London church service to show solidarity with their Christian neighbours.

The Muslim men and women joined the congregation of St John on Bethnal Green for Sunday eucharist yesterday to demonstrate friendship and community in the wake of the brutal murder of Father Jacques Hamel in France.

The London diocese said the service was organised by Faith Matters, an integration campaign group, and the Rector of St John’s, the Rev Alan Green, “to confirm the importance of life within both faiths and to come together in the spirit of solidarity, empathy and care for the dignity and lives of each other.”

Among the Muslim guests were Dr Mamadou Bocoum, an imam, a lecturer in Islamic Studies and board member of the Muslim Law Council, Rabina Khan, a Tower Hamlets councillor, and Mohammed Amin, the first Muslim to become a partner with accountants Price Waterhouse in the UK.

St John’s has a long history of interfaith work in east London.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY